CAIRO - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Islam is part of Germany, calling for more tolerance toward the Muslim community in the European country, Der Spiegel reported Thursday, September 27.
"We should be very open about this and say: Yes, this is part of us," Merkel said during a teleconference with 7,000 members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
She said as Christians, her party members should spend a little more time thinking and talking about Christianity than being afraid of Islam.
Islam and Muslims have been the core of heated debates in Germany.
Last June, German President Joachim Gauck sparked a storm of criticism by saying that Muslims are more definitely a part of the country than the religion of Islam.
His views contradicted his predecessor Christian Wulff, who said in 2010 that Islam is part and parcel of German society alongside the traditional faiths of Christianity and Judaism.
Merkel said Germans should not judge Islam through the acts of some individuals.
"We must be incredibly careful that we don't lump everyone together," Merkel said.
"The Islamists are not the Islam of Germany."
Her remarks came amid Muslim fury over an American-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
The film, which portrays the prophet as a womanizer and a religious fake, has triggered protests around the world, which left scores of people dead.
The German government has criticized the film as a crude attack on Islam, with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle calling it an "anti-Islamic hate video".
German authorities say they will consider banning any attempt to screen it.
But the country was plunged into the row last week after a German magazine planned a cover mocking Muslims.
The cover by the magazine Titanic showed a photo montage of Bettina Wulff - wife of the former president - being embraced by a Muslim fighter wearing a turban and brandishing a dagger.
The headline reads, "West Rises Up: Bettina Wulff Makes Film About Muhammad."
Merkel said the sweeping majority of Muslims does not condone violence.
We absolutely have to make sure that we do not tar everyone with the same brush, the Chancellor said.
Radical) Islamism is not Islam in Germany and the majority of Muslims here clearly distance themselves from violence.
The country is Europe's second-biggest Muslim population after France, and Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.Germany's daily Der Spiegel had warned last August that the country is becoming intolerant towards its Muslim minority.